Luke 6:20-26

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 6:20-26
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you see yourself in vs. 20-23, or 24-26?
Which section would you really rather be in?
No, seriously, which one?
What do you think it would take to start seeing the world this way?
Can you do it?
Will you?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thursday Picks ~ 1-19-2016

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Selling Birthrights Darryl Dash
170119Esau’s story isn’t a one-off. It’s repeated every day…

It only takes a few minutes to trade something of eternal value for what will only provide a moment’s pleasure. It’s like the man in Washington State who sold a rare coin collection, worth over $100,000, at face value. He paid for a pizza with a Liberty quarter that’s worth up to $18,500.

Stupid, but no more so than the man who trades in decades of marriage for a dalliance, or a fruitful ministry for a moment’s pleasure.


I read The Shack a few years ago and I have to admit, I was quite moved. As with most popular works like this, critics abound. Theology scholars can pick it apart (and they should, it’s their job and we should listen to them), but I believe there is value here anyway. On one level, it’s a cheesy work of Christian fiction. But on another level, it’s a metaphor that paints a picture of the Godhead, not in multisyllabic theological terms, but in a tangible human way. For me, the value was in helping to bring God near. I’m curious to see if the movie does the same.

Why ‘The Shack’ Is So ControversialRelevant Editors
You’ve probably seen the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of William Paul Young’s wildly popular novel The Shack recently going around the internet. As is probably expected, the movie, which hits theaters in March, is reigniting the controversy surrounding the book.

If you’ve been around Christian circles long, you know this controversy isn’t new. But if you may not know—especially if the controversy is news to you—what exactly all the fuss is about.


Fear of the Working ClassGene Veith
616px-AlfredPalmerRamagosa…I see this problem as a pathological form of classism–bigotry against people of a lower social class than yourself.  Classism used to be a taboo like racism, with which it has lots of similarities, but no more.

The working class used to be the base of the American left and the Democratic party.  Ironically, this phobia or classism of today’s liberals against the working class was arguably what elected Donald Trump, as Democrats wrote off industrial states like Wisconsin in order to pursue millennials, techies, and other cool people.

The left has come a long way from “workers of the world unite!” to the fear of plumbers.  At least there is little danger today of a Communist revolution.  Today’s left has become far too bourgeois.


A longish profile of a fascinating guy…

How Kirk Franklin Is Pushing the Boundaries of Gospel
Vinson Cunningham
Franklin (seated) blends secular sounds with an uplifting devotional message.
One of the problems, he said, is gospel’s dual role as artistic endeavor and as purveyor of religious experience. “They don’t come to gospel for the production or for the beats,” he said of his audience. “They come because they wanna be ministered to. So sometimes it’s, like, Well, if that’s all I’m good for, what do I do with all these ideas, and these creative dreams, and growth I want to do as an artist? I wanna give you Jesus, but I wanna give you Jesus with an 808. I wanna give you Jesus with some strings.”


Map of the modern brain…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/associative-memory-function.jpg
Wrong Hands

Luke 6:12-19

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 6:12-19
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Have you ever spent a whole night in prayer?
If so, what did you pray about? What was on your mind?
Was it a crisis? Was it for forgiveness? Was it for healing?
Was it because you had a mission you wanted to accomplish for me?
What do you think Jesus prayed about on this night?
Think about all your prayers.
Do you generally pray for the same kinds of things?
Is it time to pray for something else? Something more?
Something bigger than yourself?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Where did that come from?

No automatic alt text available.My mind kind of goes wherever it wants when I’m on a run. That is, if I can distract it from the actual…you know…running.

I feel my heart beating and hear my lungs breathing.

I wonder: where did I come from?

I could say I was born in Louisiana, but I lived most of my life in and around Cincinnati, so when someone asks, I tell them I’m from Cincinnati. But that’s not really what I’m asking.

Where did I come from? My life, I mean.

My heart has been beating for 63.5 years. What started it? My lungs have been breathing, maybe not as hard as they are right now, but for just as long. What started this? My thoughts? My questions? Not just these specific thoughts and questions, but the existence of any thoughts and questions.

Where did they come from?

I begin looking around at my neighborhood and the streets of Cincinnati. Where did they come from? I suppose one answer is that a bunch of Germans, a bunch of Catholics, and a bunch of folks from eastern Kentucky decided to build a city here. (I realize that’s a major generalization, but I’m trying to keep this short.)

But where did they come from? And what was here before they came to town?

I suppose there were some Native American folks here. Some wildlife of some kind. A river.

But where did they come from?

I don’t know all the details, but I think science tells us that the animals and people probably evolved from fish. The river was probably formed by the ice age. Ok. That’s what all the evidence seems to indicate. But still: where did the fish come from? What caused the ice age?

Where did the ice itself come from? Well, it’s frozen water.

Ok, but where did the water come from?

Well, I know that a molecule of water is comprised of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. So I suppose that if you can somehow combine two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen you would get water.

I think this might be harder than it sounds. I don’t really know if it can even be done. I saw Matt Damon do it in The Martian, but I don’t know if that’s science, or just science fiction. Either way it begs the question:

Where did the hydrogen and oxygen come from?

Where did anything come from?

No automatic alt text available.Back to me.

I occupy a few cubic feet of space. What was in that space before me? Air? Probably. Before that?

Or maybe harder yet…

What was here before there was a here here? Where did this few cubic feet of space come from? Was this space always here? The truth is, this space wasn’t always here because it’s moving. The whole planet moves around the sun. In fact, the entire universe is in constant motion, so the actual few cubic feet that I occupy is never stationary. So, what occupied that space before I got there, and what is there when I leave?

More than that, where did the motion come from? What started it? A big explosion of unimaginable power?

Maybe.

But, where did the explosion come from? What caused it?

An enormous compression of all the matter in the universe into an indescribably monstrous black hole until it could no longer take the pressure and caused an energy release of cosmic proportions?

I just made that up. I know that smart scientific minds can explain it better than I can, but I still have a question:

Where did the matter come from?

Well, it’s been here for billions of years of time…maybe even billions of billions…

Ok. But that still doesn’t answer the question.

Where did it come from?

Where did any of this come from?

Was it always here? Always? For eternity? No beginning and no end? Seriously?

I really don’t know how atheists do it. I think most atheists look at belief in the existence of God, and Christianity specifically, as so much fairy-tale make-believe. The thing is, if I’m honest, I have to admit I can see their point. It does sound that way to me sometimes.

Until I start asking the questions.

Where did the thoughts, the ability to think, a sense of good and bad, right and wrong, DNA, an atom, the energy that holds the atom together, the solar system, the universe, movement, time, love, eternity, the ability to even think of the concept of eternity…where did any of this come from?

I love science. Scientists can analyze and describe what is. And the more they do, the more amazing it all becomes. But scientists can only theorize about where it all came from.

And then there’s the big question…

Why?

Science can’t even touch that one.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about while I was out for a run.

Lloyd

Luke 6:1-11

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 6:1-11
On a Sabbath,[a] while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you think these Pharisees were wrong about the law?
In what way?
Do you think they knew who they were talking to?
Why do you think they were “filled with fury”? (v. 11)
Do you ever try to hold me to your standards?
What is your reaction when I refuse?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Tuesday Picks ~ 1-17-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Gospel Apologetic, and the Letter from the Birmingham JailMichael Kelley
Letter from the Birmingham Jail.
It’s a good and right thing to read today, and I’m particularly moved by the section above in which Dr. King called upon the church to have a prophetic voice and stance in society – to “disturb” the prevailing culture by their presence. One of the ways the early church did this was through their baffling unity across the traditional boundary lines of their day. In fact, in the Book of Ephesians, Paul held up the church itself – specifically, the unity of the church across the lines of race – as the evidence of the power of the gospel.


Maybe you’ve never made a mistake, but I have. And I can tell you from experience that this takes time, but it’s the only way to get back on track…

How to Take Responsibility after a Major Mistake
Michael Hyatt
disappointedSo what does it mean to take responsibility after a major mistake? Here are four steps anyone can follow to get things back on track…


Christians Must Be Myth BustersTrevin Wax
Myths Concept Metal Letterpress Type
Christians ought to be the best myth busters. That is, we ought to be able to recognize the stories that impact society and all the people in it, ourselves included. And we ought to recognize both the longings and the lies in the stories we tell ourselves.

It’s one thing to “bust” a myth, to simply contrast the Christian worldview with the false stories on display in the world. But it’s another thing to listen carefully to the people around us, so that we observe the yearning that may be expressed in that common belief…

Listen first. Then, when we play the role of myth busters, we won’t ever make people feel inferior or stupid. No, the gospel ought to make people feel relieved...

Christian myth busters don’t just point out what’s wrong in the worldviews of others; they embody what’s true, and good, and beautiful in the gospel of Jesus Christ. So that others want the gospel to be true.


Where do we go from here? Racial reconciliation in 2017
Matthew J. Hall
http://d1nwfrzxhi18dp.cloudfront.net/uploads/resource_library/library_entry/promo_image/2305/20170117_CivilRights-1888x960.jpgFor many of us, the past year has not been one that had engendered optimism about the future of racial justice and reconciliation in this country, or in our churches. In recent months, I have spoken with many Christians of diverse racial and ethnic identities who have battled cynicism. In the wake of all we experienced in 2016, they have lost hope that American Christianity can be redeemed… They are discouraged and skeptical… And they are profoundly tired. And I think I understand, even if imperfectly, why they feel that way.

So what will be needed in the days ahead? Simple optimism is bankrupt and unable to anchor us. But there is something deeper, something more enduring than optimism: hope. When optimism collapses under the weight of reality and pain, hope presses on. And there is love. When cynicism and fatigue press in, love is a ballast; love for God, love for neighbor.

In an age marked by incivility and polarization, what if the church led the way in love?


But don’t rush…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDEvWml0cy4yMDE3MDExM185MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 5:33-39

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 5:33-39
33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”[a]

From this passage I hear God asking me:
When was the last time you fasted?
Why did you do it?
Is this the time for fasting?
Why, or why not?
What do you make of the patches and the wineskins?
What is the old garment, wine, and wineskin?
What is the new?
What is the problem?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Monday Picks ~ 1-16-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

A Prayer for MLK DayKevin DeYoung
Bring healing to this land, O Lord, for the stain and sin that is our history of racial prejudice. We lament the racial bigotry that has taken place in our nation’s past and continues to exist in the present. If ever we have been a part of this sin, have perpetuated this sin, or have turned a blind eye to this sin, we repent and ask for your mercy.


Aging GracefullyTim Challies
Which house are you building? Are you building a palace or a prison? Are you building a place of joy, comfort, and security, or a place of grief, sorrow and peril? Every day you are laying the bricks to your home. From childhood you have been decorating it. With each passing day you add new ornaments and you stock—or don’t stock—it for days to come. And as the winter of your life approaches, you will take up residence in the house you have built. So I ask again, which house are you building?


Jesus Is the Smartest Man Who Ever LivedJared Wilson
Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived. We have to get that through our thick skulls if we want to make a hill of beans difference for the kingdom in this world. So often we think of Jesus as spiritual in a way disconnected from reality. Jesus is religiously idealistic, we reason, but not (as they say) “street smart.” …

The reality is that Jesus knows exactly how things really are, and in fact knows how things really are better than anybody else. We may look over the ethos of the Sermon on the Mount and find the whole thing utterly impractical toward getting ahead in the world—or even toward winning elections—but one of the underlying points of the Sermon is that getting ahead in the world is a losing gambit to begin with. We come to Jesus’s teaching looking for tips on playing checkers, when all along he is playing chess.


Did Jesus Have a Sense of Humor?Samuel Lamerson
did jesus laugh…maybe the image of a laughing Jesus offends simply because it makes him too human. Yet Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is able to sympathize with us because he is exactly like us (minus the sinning). God has gifted us with a sense of humor; it stands to reason that Jesus had one, too.


Go ahead and “leaf” through the first issue…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/bizarro-01-12-17.jpg
Bizarro

Diversity is Hard

http://www.blr.com/html_email/images/WIR/HRDA/hrda_092914.jpgSide 1

There are those who cringe when they hear the word. Usually, when they hear it, it’s being spoken by someone who is different from them. To them it sounds accusatory. They get defensive because they will tell you that they believe in diversity. Admittedly, their closest circle of friends only include people who share their view of the world, but they deal on a daily basis with people who don’t. These relationships are peaceful and respectful.

As long as the subject doesn’t come up.

The thing is, they have a hard time looking at life through the eyes of the other side, and don’t really see why they should try. They see the other side as arrogant elitists. And who can blame them when the only communication they get from the other side confirms their assumption? The other side is constantly telling them they are ignorant, gun-toting rednecks who are filled with hate.

They know this isn’t true. They love their family and friends. They’re good people. If everyone shared their values the world would be a better place.


Side 2

There are those who love the word. They talk about it a lot. To them it sounds beautiful. They feel a sense of pride in the fact that their closest circle of friends includes people of other races, other religions, and other sexual orientations. Admittedly, these friends all share their view of the world, but they deal on a daily basis with people who don’t. These relationships are peaceful and respectful.

As long as the subject doesn’t come up.

The thing is, they have a hard time looking at life through the eyes of the other side, and don’t really see why they should try. They see the other side as backward and ignorant. And who can blame them when the only communication they get from the other side confirms their assumption? The other side is constantly telling them they are arrogant, amoral liberals who hate America.

They know this isn’t true. They love their family and friends. They’re good people. If everyone shared their values the world would be a better place.


The thing is, we all have a hard time looking at life through the eyes of the other side.

But what if we tried?

Lloyd

 

Luke 5:27-32

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 5:27-32
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Leaving everything? (v. 28) What specifically did he leave?
I’ve asked you to follow me, too. What do you have to leave?
Today, I want you to think about vs. 29-32.
What do these verses have to say to you…
…about Levi?
…about Levi’s friends?
…about you?
…about your friends?
…about your church?
…about how evangelism works?
Are you more like the Pharisees or Levi?
Who do you know who needs a “doctor”?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.